How Do Some Diet Supplements Still Contain Ephedra?

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Ephedra is no longer legal for use in diet supplements, but all it takes is a quick search to find hundreds of weight loss products that claim to contain ephedra. The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) still allows the sale of ephedra, particularly as ephedrine and pseudoephedrine, but the products are sold at pharmacies and all sales are recorded and regulated. Buyers can only purchase a certain amount of either product during the defined rolling period. Sales are tracked using government-issued identification and linked to the person making the purchase, but how do some diet supplements still contain ephedra when the FDA is regulating the sale of ephedra?

Do the products contain the real ephedra or a pseudoextract?

Did you know there is more than one extract from the ephedra plant? Only one extract is regulated by the FDA and only one extract is proven to boost fat burn and weight loss. Other extracts from the same plant may carry the ephedra name, but they have no impact on weight loss and no thermogenic properties. For instance, Ephedra Nevadensis is present in drier areas of the United States. It is used as a food source for mule deer and sheep, but it is not a stimulant or thermogenic. Ephedra Nevadensis can be brewed to tea and consumed by humans, so if a diet supplement contained this ingredient, the label could read ephedra and not contain the ma huang extract regulated by the FDA. 

Is using ephedra illegal?

Using ephedra is not illegal, but then FDA will regulate all sales. You can’t walk into a drug store and purchase 10 or 15 boxes of ephedra to create your very own ECA stack or diet pill combination at home. However, purchase of ephedra in the forms of pseudoephedrine and ephedrine is legal in the United States. 

Ephedra is one of the few natural substances proven to boost weight loss and decrease hunger, but negative side effects, including death, have been linked to the stimulant so the FDA regulates the sale of the supplement. If a diet supplement claims to contain ephedra, you can bet the extract is not the extract controlled by the FDA. 

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